Chapter 57 = Silver shadow
Disclaimer: Although all characters here are of my own invention, the original idea of Yoshies, Birdos, etcetera, are copyright of Nintendo, and I make no money from writing this.
“I see dragon wings, strong and powerful…”
Dragon wings? Why dragon wings? I’ve already met a dragon once before…
“I see fangs stained with blood…”
Could that be Klashkna? His fangs drip blood all the time…
“The mountains in the southwest…”
What’s there for me? They say the Underworld Entrance is there, but it’s sealed…
Darkmark was going through all of the things that the Magikoopa Oracle had said the previous night, wondering to himself what they meant as he lay half-asleep under the bedclothes, straining to recall all that had been said.
“Ruins sealed away beside the Underworld…”
Perhaps that’s what I need to go to, but why?
“I can sense vast waves of psionic energy…”
No surprises there, I’ll probably still be alive…
Darkmark heard shuffling to his left as Manny, in the other bed, started to stir.
“I see a marble temple… valleys of fire…”
Sounds like that Marble Altar that Manny told me about once… I can’t remember what it does… and valleys of fire? Are there volcanoes in the mountains in the southwest?
“…Flames… all-consuming flames enveloping the lands… many cities under siege…”
Probably human cities. Serves them right.
“…Seven children… the Koopas… seven fragments…”
Seven children and seven fragments? Who would -I- have children with? And why would the Koopas be involved? And fragments of what?
“The Lord of Darkness… the seal… a golden Yoshi… Sévar…!”
And then it’s the legend… the final great legend of Octotheism. Sévar. And the seal to the underworld…
Suddenly, Darkmark opened his eyes, sensing something… something supernatural, something definitely not good for his health…
He sat bolt upright in the bed, looking around. The two-bed hotel room was small and grotty, with wallpaper coming off in several places, a disgusting wooden floor Darkmark had vowed never to step on barefoot, and two rusting bed frames with moth-eaten mattresses, the only comfort of which was the remote softness which probably wouldn’t stay there for long. On one side of the room was a plate-glass window, and on the other side was the cloudy grey sky above Sansata, a truly disheartening sight. Manny was also stirring, and sat up in his bed, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he attempted to properly wake up and keep away from his dreams.
Darkmark sensed something once more, and figured out that it was ethereal… ether was a strange non-physical substance that was everywhere upon Chyrus, and could be changed back and forth from magic, psionic energy and chi. And there was a very large surge just outside, as though it were being concentrated…
“Get down!” Darkmark shouted, holding his right hand up suddenly.
It almost worked. Just as there was a sudden explosion and the window blew forwards into thousands of razor-sharp shards, a translucent purple shield formed from the psionic energy around Darkmark’s hands and was held in the air in what almost seemed to go in slow motion. The front of the cloud of glass passed over Manny, who had thrown himself down as instructed, and embedded itself in the shield sending shocks of pain, like pins and needles, into Darkmark’s hand. Not expecting this, he felt his concentration falter and he, too, ducked down just as the shield dissipated and the psionic energy returned to the ether from whence it came. Holding an arm over his face, Darkmark took several cuts to it as the glass rained down, but emerged relatively unscathed compared to what he would have been had he not moved from where he had sat.
Immediately, he sat back up, ignoring the multitude of shallow cuts across his arm, and stared at the blown-out window frame, not entirely sure of what to expect, but charging a vast amount of psionic energy about his hands as he patiently waited.
Then, landing gracefully on the windowsill and rolling inside, came the very same silvery assassin that Darkmark had seen at Shiala’s execution, the student to that ruthless Anthro Yoshi that had wronged him so…
Leaping forwards, he made a grab for her but she darted out of the way, drawing two long, curved swords with red handles and bright yellow tassels, giving a high war cry in another language as she charged some form of bright white energy at the tips of her swords, which she touched together. Again, Darkmark raised a shield and was stunned by the result; much like when he had attempted to use psi against Manny, the white bolt of chi rebounded off of the shield and was sent straight back at Tsi-Lau, its colour changed to a bright purple. However, she was much faster than Darkmark, and her lightning reflexes took her out of its path as it blew a hole in the wall behind her, sending a cloud of plaster billowing back.
Still shocked at what had happened, Darkmark barely managed to avoid a swipe from Tsi-Lau’s blades, drawing his new silver sword with a light shring, and the blade promptly began to shine dimly, just enough to be noticed. He held it in front of him parallel to his body as a shield, moving it rapidly to deflect her sudden barrage of quick strikes, before she jumped back and stood at the edge of the hole in the masonry, looking at her swords in astonishment.
Although it apparently could cut any non-metallic material, the edge on Karlo-Shin’s sword was still sufficiently sharper – and harder – than the ones on Tsi-Lau’s blades, as there were several small nicks where her swords had been cut by the magic blade on Darkmark’s weapon. Sheathing one of them, she whipped out a handful of needles from her saddlebags and was about to throw them when something else stopped her; Manny.
After finally getting enough sense to join the fight, Manny grabbed his sword and lunged forward just in time to make a slash for Tsi-Lau’s arm, slitting through her right wrist as she held her arm back, and she gave a cry of surprise more than pain, dropping the needles. My sensei would scold me if only she had seen that…
Cutting her losses, the assassin quickly sheathed her other sword and leapt out through the gaping hole in the wall, vanishing from sight.
“She’ll come back for us, I know she will.”
“Well then…” Darkmark replied, “It’s best that we not be here when she comes back. Let us leave immediately… we can stop for food and supplies somewhere on the way out.”
He started picking up the needles she had dropped, then opened his saddlebags and dropped them into an empty compartment, making a mental note never to put his hands in there carelessly. He dusted himself off and tended to his cuts, licking them clean before attempting a psionic enchantment to heal them, but failing for some reason, and with a shrug of indifference, he gathered his things and prepared to leave.
“I think I understand it now…” Darkmark murmured as they walked through the glum, misery-ridden streets of Sansata. “Chi, magic, and psi all use ether, and so interfere with each other in different ways… psi will overcome chi, chi can overcome magic, and magic can overcome psi… just like a triangle, the user of one is always vulnerable to another but powerful against the remaining one…”
“Makes sense.” Manny murmured, glad that Darkmark was trying to make conversation for once. “All those magic users out there are lucky that not many people use chi, and they helped to eliminate the psychics…”
“We’re not gone yet.” Darkmark replied. “Any feral has the potential, it’s just that nobody alive -knows- how to use it… except me. Perhaps one day, I shall change this, but it is not time for that yet…”
Silence fell over them as they continued across the cobblestone road, stepping away from the drunks and beggars that lined its edges, pushing away those who attempted to confront them. Just as they got near the end of the road, a human teenager ran out before them with a knife and tried to threaten them with it, demanding something that Darkmark couldn’t quite make out through the psychotic babbling he was making.
Narcotics. He thought to himself, sighing as the human waved the knife. ‘Narcotics’ was the collective term for all the various plants with either fruit or leaves that could induce hallucinations, euphoria, or sudden mood changes, which tended to grow far from the vast grasslands upon which most of the cities were built. The human monarchy had legalised them long ago, about the time of Vizorvy, setting up many plantations and selling them at excessive prices, always neglecting to mention the horrible mental damage they could do. There were others not from plants that the humans did not know about - such as fuzzy dust, once rife among feral villages - but Octotheism heavily discouraged their use, and the Yoshies had long since left them to the humans for the most part.
Darkmark felt it would be no great loss to the world if this crazy addicted human were removed from existence, but as he raised his hand, Manny slapped it down in protest, cocking his head towards the nearest mildly interested city guard. “Don’t do it, he’s not worth it. Just draw your sword and threaten him…”
“With pleasure.” Darkmark said sneeringly, taking out Karlo-Shin’s sword and pointing it straight at the human’s throat. “Back off.” He commanded, feeling no need to follow it up with an ‘or I’ll…’ statement. The tone in his voice said it all.
Running just as fast as he came, the human retreated as Darkmark sighed again and sheathed his sword. “Narcotics. Filthy humans… only they would use them, especially at that age. Only they would grow the things, for that matter…”
“Only convinces me all the more that they can’t be staying much longer.” Manny mused as they started walking again. “If the prophecy is indeed coming true, Sévar will clear them out soon enough…”
“If I got the chance,” Darkmark growled, “I’d kill them all myself and we wouldn’t need Sévar to come back…”
Tsi-Lau watched from the shadows, ignoring the drug-crazed human sprinting past her, tripping over his own feet. The cut to her wrist she had healed with her chi, and her swords she had repaired with a different spell, but she was disconcerted about the way her powers had been reflected back at her, morphed into another form of ethereal energy.
She remembered learning about psychics during her training, how they were once the greatest threat to the assassins with their powers, but the human magic users had destroyed them, almost wiping out the entire feral Yoshi race in the process. But yet, here was one several generations later, alive and breathing and preparing to unleash his wrath upon the world. But she would kill him; it was her duty as commanded by her sensei to slay this ‘Darkmark’, and if she would be forced to refrain from chi… well, those powers weren’t the only trick she knew.
Watching them walk out through the northern gate, she prepared to follow them, wherever they were going. You are as likely to escape your death as you could your own shadow… prepare yourself for the afterlife, psychic.
She took off after them, keeping her distance and staying to the shadows.
To be continued…